About Harlan

Just a dude living in Dallas.

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I’m Finally Gonna Fall Below Chase 5/24: My Credit Card Plan

I have a below 5/24 plan. How’d that happen?

A combination of things. Bank of America added application rules for Alaska cards – I held back on my nth card.

And I can’t get most Amex cards because I’ve already earned the welcome offer, or Citi cards because of their 24-month “family of brands” rule. Plus, I got busy baby-making.

So when I checked Credit Karma, I had to blink again. For the first time in years, I’ll be below 5/24 as of July 19, 2019 – only 4 months away!

I mean yeah, there are non-Chase cards I’d looove to get (I’m drooling for the Amex Hilton Aspire). But heck, if I’m this close, I may as well keep trending. And you bet I’m running right for the Chase Ink Business Preferred – I hope that sweet 80,000-point bonus is still around!

below 5/24 plan

When I think of UR points, alls I see is Hyatt hotel stays. First stop: Ink Business Preferred

More broadly, this might be the beginning of a long-needed credit card overhaul.

My Below 5/24 Plan

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The 12 Best Card-Linked and Cashback Apps (10 Get You Completely Free Rewards)

Lord knows I love playing around with new apps on my phone, especially in the interest of free, passive cashback just for linking my cards one time.

And other apps can save you money too, but require more interaction. I’m happy to click a few buttons to earn a few free bucks.

There are a LOT of card-linked and cashback apps out there.  Here are the 6 best card-linked apps, and 6 best cashback apps.

Between the 12, you stand to gain $95+ right out the gate!

 

best cashback apps

These apps get you ongoing rewards for linking your cards. Set and forget!

Between them all, I’ve gotten back $100s in free rewards in the form of cash and gift cards.

12 Best Apps for Free Rewards

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Freebird Promo Code for $10 Cashback: “OUTANDOUT”

Here’s the latest Freebird promo code you can stack for up to $30 cash back on Uber and Lyft rides booked through Freebird.

Here’s how to do it. After you download Freebird, enter this.

Freebird promo code: 

  • OUTANDOUT” – $10 cashback ($5 for each of your first 2 rides)

Freebird lets you book Uber and Lyft rides through their app – and you’ll earn points on each ride. Once you earn 5,000 points, you can cash it out for $10. So you can potentially do even better when you add points to the mix.

freebird promo code

I love using the Freebird app for Uber and Lyft rides

Plus, as I’ve found over the past few weeks, your Uber and Lyft credits should still work!

Freebird promo code powers up your Uber and Lyft apps

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Is Stash Stock-Back Better Than Earning Points? They Seem to Think So – Do You?

Micro-investing platform Stash introduced a debit card this week with an interesting proposition – earn .125% rewards on every purchase in the form of stock. If you spend at a publicly traded company, you’ll get a slice of their stock.

And if they’re a private company, your rewards go into a low-cost Vanguard ETF.

That’s great, but if you want to earn stocks, just get a Fidelity Visa (learn more here) for 2% back and buy whatever fund you want. Right?

Stash says they make it easier by delivering your rewards instantly and automatically. And sometimes bonuses go up to 5% back.

Today I got an email with the subject line: “Forget points. The Stash debit card has something better.” 😲 That got my attention.

Stash Stock-Back review

Me? Forget points? I think not, especially for such low earning rates

But it does raise an interesting question: travel rewards for Now You, or invest for Future You? And I dunno, but getting 5% back as stock might be worthwhile sometimes. But I wonder how much I could really earn from that…

Stash Stock-Back review – is it worth it?

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Sweet! Citi Rewards+ 10% Rebate Works With Other ThankYou Cards for up to 10,000 Points Back per Year

So this is pretty cool. The Citi Rewards+ card is a new card that:

  • Earns 2X Citi ThankYou points at supermarkets and gas stations on up to $6,000 in spending per year (then 1X)
  • Rounds up every purchase to the nearest 10 points (spend $2, earn 10 points, say)
  • Rebates 10% of your redeemed miles on up to 100,000 points per year
  • Has NO annual fee

I product changed my old Citi Diamond Preferred to the Rewards+, and that was that. Until today, when I saw a random 1,600 ThankYou points in my account.

The only activity I’d had recently was transferring 16,000 Citi ThankYou points to Qantas. Then I realized – the Rewards+ card’s 10% rebate worked on the redeemed ThankYou points, even though I earned them with other ThankYou cards.

For a card that’s free to keep, that’s up to 10,000 points back in my account every year – and I value those for $200 at least. An as long as this works, I will 100% keep my Prestige card long-term.

This pairing is pretty awesome – and seems to work with any other ThankYou card and for any type of redemption (points transfer, travel booked directly, etc).

Citi Rewards+ 10% Rebate

Holy crap, this new power-up to my Citi Prestige card is worth an extra 10,000 points per year. Officially keeping

When you combine the rebate with points transfer bonuses and 1.25 cents for travel – it gets all that much better.

Combine Citi Rewards+ with other ThankYou cards for up to 10,000 points back per year

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Trip Report: An Amazing Repeat Stay at the Hyatt Ziva Puerto Vallarta

This time last week, I was at the Hyatt Ziva Puerto Vallarta – almost 1 year to the day after my February 2018 stay. I originally wanted to try a different Ziva, like Los Cabos, or perhaps return to the Zilara in Cancun – and found tons of award flights from Dallas to all three.

But flights from Chicago to fly down an old friend were scarce. So for whatever reason, the availability lined up and sent us to the Ziva Puerto Vallarta again.

I was open to it, returning to the known. Also curious to see if it had changed – and I knew it would be a sure bet for max relax. We even thought about trying the Hilton all-inclusive there.  But in the end, we settled on a right proper fly n’ flop.

It’s a huge, gorgeous property with:

  • 5 restaurants
  • 5 bars
  • Coffee shop/self-serve deli
  • 4 pools
  • Kids club
  • Tennis club, spa, gym, hot tubs, and swim-up rooms
Hyatt Ziva Puerto Vallarta Review

When your hotel room looks like a magazine

Here are my 1-year-later impressions.

Hyatt Ziva Puerto Vallarta Review – 2019 version

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Citi ThankYou Points Are My Earn & Burn Currency of the Year! 60,000 UR = 100,000 TYP (Prestige Vs Sapphire Reserve Pt. 2)

I recently emptied my Citi ThankYou points account. Yup, I burned every single last point to stay at the Hyatt Ziva Puerto Vallarta. For my 4-night stay, I could’ve spent:

  • 80,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points (because it’s 20,000 Hyatt points per night)
  • ~131,000 Citi ThankYou points (with the 4th night free thanks to Citi Prestige)

I asked a friend which would be the better option. “Whichever is easier for you to replenish,” was her advice.

Within my Chase Ultimate Rewards portfolio, I spend most on my Sapphire Reserve for 3X, and sometimes my Freedom for 5X. Within my Citi ThankYou portfolio, I spend most on my Prestige for 5X, and sometimes my AT&T Access More for 3X. And the Prestige 5X category gets the bulk of my attention.

If I spend $10,000 on flights and dining:

  • On Sapphire Reserve at 3X, I get 30,000 points
  • On Prestige at 5X, I get 50,000 points

For my same spending, I get way more rewards. For the hotel stay above, the earn rate was actually equal (80/3 = 131/5). But for transfers to airline miles, that’s the difference between getting 1 award ticket instead of 2 for the same spend.

Match your spending to a 5X category and see what happens.

citi thankyou points

For views like this, just burn Citi ThankYou points if your 5X categories are similar to mine

If you buy a lot of airfare, and eat out often, you’d do well to earn 1.67 more points per $1 – they add up fast!

Citi Prestige Vs Chase Sapphire Reserve (again)

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Citi Prestige Vs Chase Sapphire Reserve: Which Ultra-Premium Card Is Better? (Bonus Categories, Perks, Insurance)

Dang, this is hard. I’ll go ahead and say, “It depends.”

But I am going through it, y’all.

Both the newly refreshed Citi Prestige and ever popular Chase Sapphire Reserve have their place in this world. And I know which one I’m using a LOT more (Citi Prestige). But I can’t bring myself to downgrade my Chase Sapphire Reserve because I don’t want to lose specific perks.

As I look at them, side-by-side, I gotta say – it’s a total wash. Do I keep ’em both?

And while I’ll stick with Citi Prestige short-term, I think they’re both keepers. Let’s compare.

Citi Prestige vs Chase Sapphire Reserve – 2 excellent ultra-premium cards

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American Airlines Cards Officially Useless – I’m Closing Mine in May 2019

American Airlines has a case of “too big for their britches,” as we say down south. They think they’re Delta – they’re not. They think their co-branded credits cards are too beneficial – so they’re cutting the best benefit.

As of May 1st, 2019, NONE of the American Airlines credit cards (from Barclays or Citi) will have a 10% rebate on redeemed miles, which was good for up to 100,000 redeemed miles per year (so you could get back 10,000 miles).

I maxed this out every year – and rarely use other benefits of the cards. I don’t check bags. Priority boarding is great, but whatever. I don’t buy airplane food.

And I get better earning rates with ultra-premium cards for all the bonus categories.

In a couple of months, I’m closing my American Airlines cards. Unless Citi wants to give me a big retention offer to keep one a while longer.

american airlines cards

*eyeroll emoji* These are not meaningful to me

Even worse – Citi isn’t adding anything to make up for this loss (Barclays is at least trying). Sorry, but spending $20,000 to get a stupid $125 discount isn’t a tradeoff.

Bye bye, AA cards

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I’m Gonna Be a Dad! My Journey Toward Becoming a (Gay) Known Donor

Here’s a post I never thought I’d write. It’s something I’ve been thinking about the past few months, and the time feels right to say: I’m gonna be a dad!

I still can’t believe it – it happened so fast. The little bean is currently ~13 weeks along, so we’ve made it to the second trimester. It’ll be born in late August/early September.

Our arrangement is unorthodox, as in – not the norm. I’ll be known as the father, and its moms (yes, plural) will be the primary caregivers.

I’m learning there isn’t a script for this. So we have to communicate, communicate, communicate.

I know in my heart the child will be surrounded by love in a supportive, capable household.

I really thought this would never happen for me. But now it is. I say that with much amazement.

gay known donor

The photo that stopped my heart and changed everything

Here’s how it came to be.

Becoming a known donor

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Investing Vs Pay Down Student Loans: Why I’m Gonna Aggressively Save for Retirement and Just Pay the Minimum

I’ve been taking stock of my complete financial life: mortgage, credit cards, savings, and other debt.

At one point, I became obsessed with getting rid of my student loans. They’re an ugly stain, a black cloud always marring my ideal financial vision. Last year, I made a $7,000 payment just to start chipping away at the principal. I see now it was an emotional, not logical, decision.

Since then, I don’t feel like made much progress. And deep down, I want to save more in my IRA account. I was paying so aggressively that I wasn’t saving as much.

After running the numbers, I’ve decided to say screw the student loans. I’m gonna pay the bare minimum and invest everything else.

Past Harlan went to school. Future Harlan is gonna save his pennies. (Third person tense activatedddd!)

invest student loans

I just wanna be carefree. For me, that means giving up the ghost of paying off my student loans – I’m gonna invest the rest

I’m tired of missing out on opportunities.

Why I’m forgetting about paying off my student loans

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Up to $10 Back for Uber & Lyft Rides + Earn Points Every Time With Freebird

I recently discovered Freebird – an app that aims to reduce drinking and driving, and partners with local bars, restaurants, and liquor companies to reward consumers for taking Uber or Lyft rides to their businesses (and back home). Rewards come in the form of points per ride, and cashback when you visit a participating business.

And right now, you can get up to $10 back when you connect your Uber and/or Lyft accounts and start riding.

Even better, it pulls prices directly from Uber and Lyft – but booking through Freebird gets you the benefit of earning rewards on every ride.

I’ve been using it for a week or so and I gotta say, it’s pretty cool.

freebird

Freebird is an app that connects to Uber and Lyft and rewards you for riding

Here’s how to get the cashback.

What’s Freebird?

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